Is Your Nursing Shift Keeping You From Regular Exercise? Try Irregular

Is Your Nursing Shift Keeping You From Regular Exercise? Try Irregular.

Is Your Nursing Shift Keeping You From Regular Exercise? Try Irregular

Is Your Nursing Shift Keeping You From Regular Exercise? Try Irregular

The definition of “work” has changed a lot in just the last century. Not too long ago, working meant laboring—moving, sweating, lifting, plowing, and a host of other progressive verbs. But over the past several decades, much of our work has shifted indoors and behind desks… and this doesn’t bode well for our health.

“Most of us spend about 75 percent of our day sitting or being sedentary,” warns Dr. Meredith Peddie, “and this behavior has been linked to increased rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and overall mortality.”

Nurses and medical assistants aren’t exempt either. One recent study noted that employees who work shifts (specifically nurses) have a much more difficult time scheduling physical activity.

But none of this is new. We’ve known for a while that anything sedentary is bad for us. Nurses and Nurse Practitioners are constantly on the lookout for hypertension and lower back pain in patients that too much sitting can often cause. But fixing the issue can sometimes feel like an out-of-reach goal.

Look up any article on healthy living and the word that always precedes “exercise” is the word “regular”, and that can be disheartening. As the earlier study mentioned, shift work has an unpredictability that makes regular exercise difficult. And when you look at the prescribed amount of regular exercise (at least two and half hours per week), it’s easy to come to the conclusion “why bother?” After all, if you can’t do the minimum suggested amount, anything less is a waste of time, right?

Wrong. And that’s excellent news.

As researchers continue to study the impact of exercise on the human body, one thing keeps coming up—when it comes to physical activity, something is always better than nothing.

When it comes to prolonged sitting, for example, Dr. Peddie’s research concluded with clear results: even short interruptions to sitting (once every half hour) had distinctly positive impacts on health. And amazingly, neither the intensity level nor the age/weight of those monitored seemed to matter. You simply need to get up and move more often.

“We should all be finding ways to avoid sitting for long periods, and to increase the amount of movement we do throughout the entire day,” Dr. Peddie suggests.

Of course, getting to the gym or the trail has even greater benefits, but can also be difficult to find time to do regularly. Fortunately, even just a single workout has proven positive results for your body.

Mere minutes of exercise can begin to alter your muscles’ DNA, turning on certain genes for strength and metabolism. You’ll also get the mental boost that comes from endorphins and serotonin, both of which are released within one exercise session. Even the way your body metabolizes fats improves with just one good session of sweat—and because of this, just that one workout can improve your resistance to diabetes.

Not only does your body improve with a single exercise session, your mind and spirits do as well. That means improved focus and a decrease in stress, even if you just work out for ten minutes!

Obviously, regular exercise is still the healthiest option, but intermittent exercise certainly has its benefits as well. So the next time you finish your shift, toss your dirty scrubs, and are deciding between your workout clothes or your comfy sweatpants, remember that even a quick workout is better than none at all.

If you are interested in studying to be a nurse or medical assistant in the Bay Area, contact Unitek College today for more information on classes, current schedules, and opportunities.

Pigs Bring Hope To Transplant Lists Worldwide

Pigs Bring Hope To Transplant Lists Worldwide

Pigs Bring Hope To Transplant Lists Worldwide

Pigs Bring Hope To Transplant Lists Worldwide

Medical science borders on the miraculous when it comes to transplants. Surgeons routinely save lives by replacing livers, hearts, kidneys, and other organs—and now hands and soon even human heads could be added to the list. But when it comes to organ transplant, often the biggest challenge isn’t the ability to perform the surgery… it’s lack of a suitable replacement.

According to OrganDonor.gov, over 114,000 men, women, and children are currently on the list for organ transplants, waiting for a match or a suitable donor to appear. And while nearly 35,000 transplants are performed each year, 20 people die every day waiting for their turn.

“In the last ten years, the number of patients requiring an organ has doubled, while at the same time the actual number of transplants has barely gone up,” says Anthony Atala, a researcher at Wake Forest. “This is now a public health crisis.”

But this past week, scientists in Texas announced a breakthrough that could potentially turn the tide on the world’s waiting list problems, and they did it with the help of some unlikely pink transplant patients… pigs.

Scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston not only successfully “grew” pigs lungs in their lab but were able to successfully transfer the organs to their pig patients… patients who were still in the “pink” of health up to two months after the surgery.

Over the past fifteen years, scientists worldwide have collaborated around the idea of “growing” organs in a lab rather than waiting for a human donor, but until now, the results were less than encouraging. This week, however, researchers were finally able to tell a different story.

The challenge was creating an organ that the recipient’s body wouldn’t reject, and to do that, researchers took an existing lung, essentially stripped it down to what they call the “scaffolding” (a framework of tough proteins), then allowed new tissue to grow around the scaffold for 30 days.

Eventually, researchers hope that technology such as 3D printing can be used to create the initial scaffolding, and that stem cells from the recipient’s own body can be used to grow the tissue—making the lab grown organ almost identical to one the body would have produced.

You won’t be seeing lab grown organs making their way to your hospital or clinic just yet, though.

Joan Nichols, one of the lead researchers, calls the latest trials “a small preclinical project,” and emphasizes that “what we make is okay, but it will not support production of lungs for the clinic. We need better equipment that really meets the needs of the project.”

Nichols also stressed that further study is needed to see if the pigs can live off the oxygen provided only by a lab-grown lung, as the recent patients received oxygen via a natural lung as well as the transplanted organ.

“This project has taken 15 years to get to this point and we are thrilled that we did so well,” says Nichols, adding, “we are pretty tired now though.”

Hopefully Joan and her team are able to enjoy a well-earned break after their hard work, and that this breakthrough quickly leads to hope for those waiting on future transplant lists.

If you’re interested in beginning your own career in nursing, or if you’re interested in studying medical assisting in the Bay Area, contact Unitek College today for more information.

Hero Nurse Breaks Down Barriers In Japan

Hero Nurse Breaks Down Barriers In Japan

Hero Nurse Breaks Down Barriers In Japan

Hero Nurse Breaks Down Barriers In Japan

If there’s one thing everyone quickly learns about nurses, it’s that no one or nothing should ever stand between them and helping their patient—even if that nothing is a two-thousand-year-old cultural tradition.

Sumo wrestling is a sport practiced only in Japan, and its historical roots stretch back to the BCE years. While the rules of the game have changed throughout the millennia, at its core, sumo wrestling has remained very true to its origins… even when those origins clash with the more progressive thinking of the present.

Almost as much a ritual as it is a sport, one very strict rule of sumo wrestling throughout its history has been a zero tolerance ban on women in the sumo ring. If a woman does enter the sacred space (called a “dohyo”) the ring is considered “ritually unclean”.

But when the ban on women came between one Japanese nurse and a man suffering from a stroke, she didn’t think twice. She entered the ring, and that bold move is still making waves in Japanese culture.

As Ryoto Tatami, mayor of Maizuru city in northern Kyoto, was delivering a speech before a sumo match, the 67-year old man suddenly collapsed in the ring. It was later determined to be a stroke, but for the female nurse watching from the crowd, the cause nor the setting mattered. She saw a man who needed help, and she charged into the ring to do so.

Her actions shocked the sumo judges, who began demanding over the PA system that she leave the ring immediately, repeating over and over the traditional ban on women in the ring. But the nurse (whose name has not yet been released) continued to work. Soon, other women began rushing into the ring to help, emboldened by the nurse’s example.

Thanks to her actions, Mayor Tatami survived the stroke, and nearly two months later was able to return to work.

“Even though sumo has a long history and traditions, its female ban policy is irrelevant today,” Tatami told a news conference on his first day back at work. “At least in situations requiring first aid, male or female should not matter. Anyone should be allowed to help out.”

The head of the sumo association also apologized for the incident, though the ban on females has not yet been officially lifted.

Still, the brave and selfless act of one nurse continues to make headlines today, two months after the mayor’s stroke, and could very well be a significant influencer in future cultural shifts in Japan.

If you are ever in a situation where you suspect a person may be having a stroke, the Mayo Clinic reminds first responders to assess the situation using the FAST acronym.

  • Face.Does the face droop on one side when the person tries to smile?
  • Arms.Is one arm lower when the person tries to raise both arms?
  • Speech.Can the person repeat a simple sentence? Is speech slurred or hard to understand?
  • Time.During a stroke every minute counts. If you observe any of these signs, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

 If you are interested in beginning your own career as a nurse, contact Unitek College today for information on our many nursing and medical assistant programs.

Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation

Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation

Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation

Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation

If you haven’t yet been introduced to the “Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation” challenge, just give it time. The premise of the challenge (sponsored by the American Nurses Association) is simple: by improving the health and lifestyle of all nurses, those nurses can then set a healthy example for all around them. It’s a program designed to establish the nurse as a role model for personal health.

But those running the program have their work cut out for them.

You would think that everyone involved in the medical field would naturally gravitate towards healthy lifestyles. And in some ways, you’d be right. Nurses tend to be very proactive when it comes to things like getting flu shots (91%), using sunscreen (88%), or not smoking (94%). But when it comes to aspects of personal life and health that can be influenced by stress, nurses aren’t always a shining example.

Part of the challenge is the weight that nurses put on taking proper care of their patients. 68% of nurse respondents said that they put their patients’ wellbeing over their own health and safety. Many times, that means taking on longer hours, sleeping less, and settling for a diet that’s more convenient than healthy.

In fact, the study also found that the average body mass index (BMI) of nurses surveyed was over 27, a number firmly in the “overweight” column.

It all goes back to that 68% mentality. Nurses are natural caregivers and very hard workers. They work face to face with patients daily, and their drive and compassion is an incredible and unique combination that has defined the role of nurse for decades. All of which is wonderful, of course… unless it comes at the cost of personal and mental wellbeing.

Enter the goal of the “Healthy Nurses, Healthy Nation” challenge.

“Just think,” the ANA writes on their website, “if all 3.6 million registered nurses increase their personal wellness and support some of their family, community, co-workers, and patients to do the same, what a healthier world we would live in.”

The HNHN challenge (which you can register for here) attempts to focus on two things: improving the physical activity, sleep quality, nutrition, quality of life, and safety of nurses, and providing an online resource for nurses to connect with each other, educate themselves on life improvements, and cultivate “friendly competition”.

“Nurses are on the frontlines of health care, “writes Dr Pamela Cipriano,” and their well-being is critical to the health of the nation… If we support nurses in getting healthy, they will model these habits for their patients, family members, friends, colleagues and communities.”

Each month of the year, HNHN issues specific challenges to participating nurses. The challenges may center around the passive, like encouraging mindfulness or improving sleep. Some focus on safely, such as completing sharps training or pledging to stop distracted driving. And of course, some of the challenges are physical—such as running a 5k. This month’s challenge is simply called “Hydration”.

Whether you’re a nurse, studying to be a nurse, or simply considering starting nurse training, we hope you’ll take a look at the HNHN challenge and give some thought to taking part. You’re our front lines out there, and we need you in the best shape possible—mentally and physically.

If you’re interested in becoming a nurse or medical assistant, Unitek College can help get you started. Contact us today for more information.

Stick Like A Pro: Tips For Mastering The Art Of Venipuncture

Stick Like A Pro: Tips For Mastering The Art Of Venipuncture

Stick Like A Pro: Tips For Mastering The Art Of Venipuncture

Stick Like A Pro: Tips For Mastering The Art Of Venipuncture

Taking a blood sample or starting an IV usually isn’t the highlight of a medical worker’s day… and it’s definitely not a favorite moment for the patient, especially if multiple sticks or other complications are involved. But phlebotomy and venipuncture are necessary, and mastering them can make the experience better for both patient and lab tech.

For starters? Remember that there’s no such thing as normal when it comes to sticking a vein.

“Anybody who expects just routine draws is quickly disappointed,” says Dennis Ernst, director of the Center for Phlebotomy Education in Corydon, Ind. “Because you have five or six categories of patients who present challenges—and you never know who’s going to walk in the door.”

The best rules to remember, of course, are the ones you learned in your medical training, and you should always defer to those techniques or to your administration for proper procedure. But here are a few tips and tricks that can help keep the sample process “flowing smoothly”.

Take A Deep Breath – Not you (though you can if you’d like), but the patient. By asking the patient to take a deep breath just before the stick, it both keeps them occupied and keeps them distracted. Being given something to do helps a person feel more in control of the situation—and this works as the needle is being removed, also.

Anchors Away – Stretching the skin by “anchoring” the vein doesn’t just help you stick the vein on the first try, it also helps make the stick less painful. Remember, your thumb goes below the venipuncture site, and give yourself plenty of room so you don’t accidentally jab your own fingers.

Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings – Finding the vein and choosing your venipuncture site is perhaps the most difficult part of phlebotomy, especially if your patient’s veins are small, fragile, or non-elastic, and much of selecting the vein comes down to feeling. Not gut feeling, literal feeling.

There’s an old joke about how the first thing lab nurses notice when meeting a new person is how good their arms veins are, and that joke isn’t far from reality. Some patients are gifts from the gods, with veins thick and visible. But others are more of a challenge.

To that end, feeling for the vein (not slapping, despite what you see in movies) will always be the most reliable approach. Palpate for that “spongy firmness”, and feel above and below your target area for a better idea of direction.

The Invisible Vein  – Still can’t find a place to stick? Dr. Jabr of Florence, Oregon suggests “to obviate the need for multiple inconvenient and painful attempts at securing the needle, apply a warm pad to the target vein for a few minutes. This helps dilate the vein and makes it more visible and accessible.”

Another trick (from the venipuncture site AimVein.com) is to bend the arm upward if the veins are hiding. This sometimes makes them easier to spot.

Less Than Thirty – You’ve probably heard this a hundred times in your nurses training, but it never hurts to hear again. The World Health Organization guidelines suggest keeping the angle of insertion at 30 degrees or less (15 is ideal) to avoid passing through the vein.

Label Immediately – There’s nothing worse than getting a great stick, drawing a great sample, then forgetting to label it right away. Actually, there is something worse… and that’s mixing up samples because they weren’t labeled at the bedside. For your sake and the patient’s sake, label all sample immediately, even if things are going a mile a minute.

Know When To Quit – Just can’t get that blood sample? Veins just aren’t cooperating? Considering a third or fourth attempt? Here’s something else to consider—getting help. Don’t think of it as failure or defeat, think of it as making the best decision for your patient. Getting a fresh set of eyes on the situation might be all that’s needed to finally draw a good sample, and knowing when to seek help is the mark of a pro.

There’s A Body Attached To That Arm – At the end of the day, though, everything really comes down to how safe and peaceful you make your patient feel. So treat each and every one as if they were a friend or relative, and remember that just because you see needles and blood samples many times a day, this is a fairly rare experience for them. They will often be nervous. Some may faint. Some may be nervous because they’re afraid they’ll faint. It’s up to you to coach them through it and make the experience as positive as possible. The better it goes, the better the chances of that person seeking medical attention in the future, and that’s always a great takeaway.

“Compassion is not antiquated,” writes Dr Larry Dossey. “It remains a crucial factor in healing and will never go out of style. It is always available for any healthcare professional who is wise enough to claim it.”

Interested in beginning your own career as a nurse or medical assistant? Unitek College can help! Contact us today for more information on our many available programs.

Officers Rally Behind Nurse Battling Cancer

Officers Rally Behind Nurse Battling Cancer

One of the greatest benefits of a life spent helping others is that when you run into trouble, you almost always have a support team already assembled. Such was the case for Hernando County nurse Debra Dolby, who found a source of strength in her uniformed co-workers.

Officers Rally Behind Nurse Battling Cancer

Officers Rally Behind Nurse Battling Cancer

A nurse at the Hernando County detention center since 2006 (and a member of the Navy and Marine Corps before that), Nurse Dolby has worked side by side with county deputies for over a decade. So last year when Debra was diagnosed with stage 3C ovarian cancer, her co-workers quickly found ways to help… and one of those ways is now getting national attention.

“She’s just a fun person that gets down to business and calls them like she sees them,” Programs Deputy William Ingersoll said, a perspective most of her co-workers share. So when cancer treatment cost Debra her hair, staging a demonstration of support was a “no brainer”.

Many of the deputies already sported shaved heads (or were bald naturally), and the ones who weren’t quickly grabbed a razor and shaved. Soon, Debra was surrounded by a smiling pack of bald-headed friends, all smiling for a photo that now serves as motivation for her.

“It’s how you get your strength and your courage, and this is a badge of courage, ” Nurse Dolby said of the support she’s found in her team. “Being bald is hard for a woman, not hard for a man, but it’s how you get your power.”

“We wanted to demonstrate that we’re part of the same team, part of the same unit, and we wanted to show a little solidarity,” Classification Sgt. Dan Carriveau said of Nurse Dolby.

And ever the helper herself, Debra is already looking for ways that her battle today can help someone tomorrow.

“There’s a lot of diseases that people need motivation for, and if I can give them just a little bit, share my story, then I’m happy,” she said.

If you’d like to see the photo (and other support from the Hernando County deputies), you can see it on their Facebook page here.

As of today, Debra’s doctors have given her a 40% chance of beating the disease, a number Debra refuses to take negatively.

“I said what’s my chances of surviving this? He said 40% and I said who says I’m not in the 40%, ” she said, adding that her motivation for survival isn’t for her sake… it’s for the sake of those who depend on her. “They need me so it’s not about me. It’s about them.”

We love stories of nurses who change lives through their dedication, passion, and skill—nurses such as Evelyn Sotomayor, whose unrelenting care helped save a patient and inspired her to become a doctor herself. But just as much, we love stories of a community that recognizes the value of the nurses who help them, and who come together when it’s the nurse who needs help.

If you’d like to explore your own options in the world of nursing, Unitek College is here to help. Contact us here for more information.